Don't let scammers profit off your generosity. Before you pull out your wallet, know who you are giving to.
The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs offers these tips to make your giving safe and scam free:
- Be wary of solicitations that ask you to pay in prepaid debit cards, gift cards, wire or bank transfer. Once in the hands of a scam artist, the money is gone and difficult to trace.
- Don’t give out personal information to someone soliciting a donation. Personal information can be as valuable as cash to a criminal, who may try to convince you to part with credit card or bank account data, phone numbers, addresses, and more.
- Don’t assume solicitations on social media or crowdfunding sites are legitimate. Some scammers hijack links to legitimate sites while others may misappropriate donated funds.
- Be careful of charities that pressure you to donate quickly. Ask any cold-caller to send you information about the charity through the mail.
Check out charities before donating
- Donate to well-known charities. Watch out for charities that have sprung up overnight. Do not assume a charity is legitimate based on its name. Some phony charities use names that sound or look like those of respected, legitimate organizations.
- Know where your money is going. Ask what percentage of your contribution goes to the cause. Find out their mission and history. Do not be afraid to ask for details in writing.
- Do not give or send cash. For security and tax record purposes, contribute by check or credit card. Write the official name of the charity on your check.
- Ignore high-pressure tactics. A real charity won't threaten or pressure you into donating.
To report a scam
- Call the SC Secretary of State’s Division of Public Charities at 1 (888) 242-7484.
- File a confidential complaint online with the SC Secretary of State using their Charitable Solicitation Complaint Form.
- Call SCDCA’s Identity Theft Unit at 1 (844) 835-5322 or go to this link.